At the conclusion of the 2008 high school football season, King coach Lonnie Williams was asked if he had any juniors on his roster who might be Division I prospects as seniors. He named one player, 6-5, 290-pound offensive tackle Jamall Keaton.
Williams, who has coached for 40 years, said Keaton "has the potential to be another Jeff Allen," comparing him to the former King star who was a standout at Illinois. Keaton, a three-year starter, was described as "athletic, strong, good blocker, a great prospect."
Williams never mentioned offensive lineman Greg McKee.
So imagine everyone's surprise when McKee recently made an oral commitment to Connecticut.
"Last November, Keaton was rated above him. I didn't think he (McKee) would go as high as he did. I knew he had potential but..." Williams said. "He came on late in the season. He had an outstanding summer of training and blossomed. He had size but he lacked tenacity. He wasn't a kid that I thought would be highly recruited."
Nobody else thought much of McKee, either. He wasn't listed by any recruiting service. At the end of the season, when it became apparent that he was being recruited, he received no stars in one recruiting survey. Remarkably, after McKee committed to Connecticut, that same service elevated him to three-star status.
To his credit, McKee did what every overlooked and underappreciated player should do. He attended several summer camps and received a lot of exposure. College coaches saw him and became aware of him. At 6-7 and close to 300 pounds, McKee is hard to miss.
"The college coaches liked him. They liked his size and speed and body. He has no fat. He is big, strong and fast. And he is a very good student, the top student-athlete in our school," Williams said.
McKee chose Connecticut over Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, two other schools that also offered scholarships. Williams said Ohio State was going to offer. Illinois and Army also came in late. But McKee already had his mind made up.
Why Connecticut? "They put a lot of time into recruiting him, every week. They really wanted him. Wisconsin offered first, then Connecticut. But Connecticut showed so much interest in him," Williams said.
"He has a great upside. He has superior academics. He is a raw talent. He lacks Jeff Allen's maturity at this time. He isn't as mean or as tough or as nasty. He needs to develop in those areas. But I've been coaching for 40 years and he is one of the best prospects I have had."
But don't forget Keaton, Williams reminds. He insists Keaton is "just as good" as McKee. He believes Keaton will choose Eastern Illinois or Western Illinois or Central Michigan.